Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett watches his teammates during a morning Spring Training baseball practice in Fort Myers, Fla., Tuesday March 11, 2008. Beckett injured his back while warming up for an outing on Saturday and is not expected to make his next start in the rotation. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Josh Beckett's suspension was reduced from six games to five on Sunday, allowing the Boston Red Sox ace to take his next turn in the rotation.
Beckett threw a pitch near the head of the Los Angeles Angels' Bobby Abreu last Sunday, leading to both dugouts and bullpens emptying. The right-hander was suspended on Tuesday and immediately appealed the ruling.
With the Red Sox off Thursday, the new penalty allows Beckett to switch spots with Jon Lester and start Saturday. Lester is now scheduled to start the series opener against the New York Yankees on Friday.
"We didn't actually have a hearing because everybody has to answer to somebody, and my boss told me that this was the best thing for the ballclub," Beckett said. "If it was up to me, obviously we would have went through with this whole thing because I don't think I deserve even one game. When your boss tells you that something is best for the whole group then that's what we do."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona agreed the slight reduction was good for the entire staff.
"Once it came to the point that they came to the five, over the phone, it seemed like the best thing to do for the ballclub, and that's what Beckett agreed to," he said. "I don't think he ever remotely felt like he ever did anything on purpose. I probably need to say that. It's still probably for the betterment of the ballclub to not take a chance where [a hearing] comes up in the middle of a start and you have a tough time answering the bell."
Beckett pitched six innings in Boston's 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night.
The incident began when Abreu was granted a timeout after a long pause on the mound by Beckett, who was holding Chone Figgins on second base. Beckett finished his throwing motion in any pitcher's normal attempt to avoid injury from a sudden stop, but his throw went in the direction of Abreu's head.
Francona also said the team decided the suspension may not have been lowered anyway.
"I don't think that the organization felt like it was ever going to get lessened [below] five, regardless of how we feel like what happened," he said.